Report: Frustrated with Syria talks, Saudis to provide advanced arms to rebels

Wall Street Journal cites Arab, Western diplomats as saying that rebels to receive shoulder-fired missiles, anti-tank weapons.

February 15, 2014 10:43
1 minute read.
US President Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah in the White House in 2010

US President Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah in the White House in 2010. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Saudi Arabia will provide sophisticated arms to rebels fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to a report in Saturday editions of The Wall Street Journal.

According to Western and Arab diplomatic sources who spoke to the Journal, Riyadh intends to deliver advanced, Chinese-made shoulder-fired missiles that are capable of downing airplanes as well as Russian-manufactured 9M113 Konkur anti-tank missiles.

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If the report, which was confirmed by Syrian opposition figures, is accurate, this would be a significant boost for the rebels, who have thus far been unable to counter the two main strategic advantages enjoyed by Assad’s military forces – its air superiority and its tank divisions. Saudi officials refused to comment on the report.

The decision to step up armament of the rebels stems from Saudi disappointed with the Geneva 2 peace talks between the opposition and the Assad government.

Syria's opposition will not place conditions on the third round of peace talks in Geneva following two rounds of negotiations which have made no progress, opposition spokesman Louay Safi said on Friday.

"We are not putting conditions in the face of a third round. But so far we are saying we have not reached results," Safi told reporters.

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